Launched in 2010, Singapore-Stanford Biodesign (SSB) was a partnership between Stanford University, the Singapore Economic Development Board, and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). At the heart of this agreement was a fellowship training program, during which the Singapore-Stanford Biodesign fellows spent half of their year-long program at the Byers Center for Biodesign learning the biodesign innovation process and the other half in Singapore addressing unmet, in-country clinical needs, as well as health-related needs across broader Asia.
The 32 SSB graduates have all pursued careers in healthcare, taking enabling roles as start-up founders, project managers, business development managers, and clinician-innovators. Graduates have also trained over 400 additional individuals in the biodesign methodology and mobilized more than S$30M in private sector funding for the local medtech ecosystem. SSB-trained fellows and class alumni have filed more than 30 patents from their training projects at SSB, with 20 projects funded to date and seven spin-outs representing a combined start-up valuation of over S$35M. Over the years, SSB has also gained recognition throughout the industry and region and is pleased to have 32 local collaborators, including academic partners, alliances, corporate members, and clinical immersion partners, as well as 10 regional partners from Indonesia, China, and South Korea.
In December 2018, after eight years, the Singapore program “graduated” to independent status as Singapore Biodesign. With the continued support of Stanford, and under host agency A*STAR, the new Singapore Biodesign will continue to train and nurture innovators to identify important unmet health needs in Asia Pacific and create cost-effective solutions that benefit patients and providers across the region.
In Singapore, the limited availability of home healthcare compels elderly patients and those with chronic conditions to seek care in hospital emergency rooms when they experience routine complications. This practice takes up beds needed for urgent care and results in unnecessary hospital admissions. After learning the biodesign innovation process as a Singapore-Stanford Biodesign fellow, Dr. Rena Dharmawan used her training to help develop a better solution.
Many lung diseases cause thick mucus to accumulate in the airways, threatening patients’ ability to breathe and increasing their vulnerability to infection. Treatment involves medication as well as twice-daily physical therapy sessions to help patients expel the mucus. After watching patients struggle with the difficult and time-consuming nature of this essential therapy, one team of Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Fellows resolved to invent a better solution.
Hemorrhoids are one of the world’s most common ailments. Early-stage symptoms including itching, pain, and rectal bleeding are distressing, but treatment options are typically limited to lifestyle modifications and sub-optimal over-the-counter remedies. After realizing that a better solution for early-stage hemorrhoids was needed both in the West and in Asia, where the problem is even more prevalent, the 2014 Singapore-Stanford Biodesign fellows began working on a solution.
“Over the years, Singapore-Stanford Biodesign has played an important role in the local medtech ecosystem by nurturing and training the next generation of medical innovators for Singapore and Asia, anchored on the Biodesign methodology.”– Tan Sze Wee, Executive Director, SERC, A*STAR
“When we look back 10 years from now at what Singapore Biodesign has accomplished, it’s going to be this talent pool, this next generation of entrepreneurs who are going to lead health technology innovation in South East Asia.”– Paul Yock, Director, Stanford Biodesign
“I think about all of the important connections that we’ve made over the years that helped us with fundraising or our regulatory work … these are people that we met through SSB.”– Prusothman Sina Raja, Co-Founder and CEO, Privi Medical